Fingerprint-based drug testing disrupting the market

08.01.2020

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Fingerprint-based drug testing disrupting the market

  • ‘The Disruptors’ video series focuses in on Intelligent Fingerprinting

Our Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Professor David Russell, was recently interviewed by the Eastern Daily Press for ‘The Disruptors‘ video series. In the film, David discusses the development of Intelligent Fingerprinting’s non-invasive fingerprint-based drug test and outlines how the company is disrupting the market now that the system is commercially available.

In discussing the opportunity that led to the original company launch, David explains how the research team at the University of East Anglia (UEA) – where he is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry – was originally investigating whether fingerprints could reveal more information than identity alone. When the team discovered that smokers could be identified by detecting cotinine – the metabolite of nicotine – in their fingerprint sweat he realised that the fingerprint sweat analysis process had the potential to offer a revolutionary, non-invasive diagnostic technique that could be used at the point-of-care to detect other substances such as illicit drugs and drug metabolites.

David established Intelligent Fingerprinting to bring this concept to commercial reality. Now, with the introduction of the Intelligent Fingerprinting Drug Screening System, organisations are able to quickly and easily determine if someone has recently taken drugs of abuse using this non-invasive approach. It takes less than a minute to collect fingerprint sweat samples using our Drug Screening Cartridge, which incorporates a very simple lateral flow test (similar to a pregnancy test, but far more sensitive) to determine whether a person has taken drugs or medication. The company’s portable cartridge reader then takes ten minutes to analyse the sample, producing screening results that can be shared immediately. A fingerprint-based laboratory confirmation service is also available.

David was asked how our innovative fingerprint-based drug test is disrupting the market. He suggested that an important reason is the test’s simplicity. Another key factor is the non-invasive nature of our approach. With the introduction of the Intelligent Fingerprinting Drug Screening System we have been able to show that there is now a simpler, faster, more hygienic and dignified way to carry out drug screening. This is in contrast to traditional drug screening tests which require the collection of saliva or urine samples which can be a slow, undignified process requiring specialised collection areas, gender-specific staff (to supervise urine sample collection) and clinical waste disposal for biohazardous body fluids.

Progress, since commercial sales started in 2017, shows that the system has applications across a range of sectors, with customers now including employers in safety-critical industries such as construction, transport and logistics firms, drug treatment and family safeguarding organisations. The company also now has distributors across the globe, including the USA. David describes in the video how making the first sale was an important milestone.

When asked about the future, Professor Russell described how he is interested to know what else can be learned from the sweat of a fingerprint. For example, it might be possible to detect biomarkers for conditions such as heart disease. However, while David thinks that such applications are entirely feasible, Intelligent Fingerprinting’s focus is on providing a faster, simpler and more convenient approach to drug testing for organisations across the globe.

Watch The Disruptors feature on Intelligent Fingerprinting here.

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